Mom Hair Don't Care — Except I Do

by Love Barnett
Alija / iStock

Going to the salon to get my hair done used to be one of my guilty pleasures in life, but lately, gray maintenance has taken over my otherwise snazzy fun-filled salon experience. I absolutely love the way my hair looks and feels afterward, but I miss those old days when I did it because it was a fun day out at the spa instead of a matter of necessity for vanity’s sake. But the need-vs.-want issue isn’t the only thing that has changed between salon visits then and salon visits now.

Styling issues are more complicated.

Instead of simply contemplating cuts and styles that flatter my face shape, now they tell me I am also supposed to be wondering if it’s age-appropriate. “Am I too old for this cut, color, or style?” The answer to that is no, by the way. No, you are not too old to wear your hair however the fuck you want to wear your hair. But that doesn’t mean the question doesn’t creep up, staring at a model in a photograph who looks 13.

Scheduling an appointment isn’t as simple as picking up the phone anymore.

Coordinating a nuclear attack likely has fewer moving parts than the effort it takes for me to get into the salon lately. Sometimes schedules don’t sync up, whether it’s my husband’s free time, my babysitter’s availability, or my hairdresser’s appointment calendar. On those occasions, I pack up my son and take him with me now that he’s old enough to sit still and not be a nuisance in the waiting area. He has an iPhone, and he knows how to use it, and I refuse to let a little thing like childcare come between me and getting my silver tinsel streamers under control. Emmylou Harris, I am not.

It’s a lot more expensive than it used to be.

My stylist is worth double every penny she earns, and there’s no way I can ever tip her as much as she deserves — although I try. But scheduling conflicts aren’t the only reason my salon trips are semi-annual in nature. I flat-out can’t afford to do this very often anymore. Not only are the kids getting to be bigger money pits as they get older, depleting my disposable funds, but the cost of services is up along with my maintenance needs. Vanity is expensive, yo. Of course, some things I can do at home for myself, but nothing beats that “just left the salon” hair day feeling. It’s worth every cent.

Salon chatter is way more annoying than it used to be.

Back in the day, when I still liked to go out into the public where the people are, I loved salon gossip. A friend of mine used to call the sink stand “the confession bowl” because people will say absolutely anything while the water is running. There’s just something about reclining with your head under that warm spray while your stylist massages your scalp that feels so incredibly relaxing and intimate, you just open up and say things — like there aren’t 12 other people in the room listening to every word.

But now, I’ve become a homebody, and I have no patience for the idle chatter. It grates on my nerves. I can’t help it. I want to join in and be sociable, but I’ve become that crotchety old biddy who just wants everyone to hush so we can get out of here sooner. Because we all know color foils can’t process as quickly if it’s noisy, right? No?

People are RUDE AF, and you’re in a vulnerable position.

The salon used to be my happy place, but lately you would not believe the things people say, both to other patrons and about other patrons. I can’t deal with such assholery. Salons aren’t the only place that happens, or even the worst place, but while you’re locked into an hours-long process, you’re kind of trapped looking like something the cat dragged in. I’ve never felt as hideous as I always do fresh out of the sink with that cape tucked under my chin when the chair spins around and the mirror says, “Woah there! Were you always a troll, or is this new?” Every. Single. Time.

There are too many product choices.

That sounds like a dumb thing to complain about, but listen: Hair that’s processed 17 ways to Sunday like mine needs salon-quality products. Drugstore just won’t do. And I’m here for that. But it’s getting out of hand. We used to have simple choices: a shampoo and conditioner for this or that hair type; a hairspray for light-hold, medium-hold, and liquid concrete; and then gel or mousse for the fancy girls with curls. That’s it.

Now there are so many different brands and formulas and new products, I literally can’t keep up. There’s new shit out there I’ve never even heard of that will make your hair do things God never intended hair to do, and maybe I want some of that in my life. Or maybe I don’t. It’s too much to keep track of, and I feel stupid asking. Tell me everything I need and draw me a crayon picture. I am a simple woman with complicated hair care needs and not enough brain space to store it all. Dumb it down for me, please! I’m not as sharp as I used to be.

The “You’re lucky! Be grateful you even get to go to the salon at all” naysayers suck balls.

I am lucky. But luck has less to do with it than my determination to keep one damn thing for myself. This is my thing. Back the fuck up off of my grooming habits. You feel like a monster if you don’t get a shower every day. I feel like a swamp troll if my new growth is heinous. You do you, and let me do me, mkay?